Opposing Forces

A Memoir

Non-Fiction - Memoir
223 Pages
Reviewed on 06/14/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Opposing Forces: A Memoir is a non-fiction work in the memoir, cross-cultural writing, and inspirational writing subgenres. Penned by author Francis Mont, this interesting work chronicles the intellectual autobiography of an East European physicist escaping from Communism to capitalism. Mont reflects on his journey from ignorance to clarity, documenting the stages of mental development that transformed his idealistic and romantic self into a mindset marked by bone-cutting honesty and a lack of illusions. Mont's journey from confusion to understanding human destiny will resonate deeply with fellow soul-searchers, offering profound insights into the complexities of political ideologies and their effect on our personal growth in the modern world.

Author Francis Mont digs deep and offers a lot of vulnerability and reflection to craft this deeply introspective reading experience. I loved the engaging, open tone of the narrative as the author shared his personal evolution amidst historical and ideological turmoil. The progression of ideas and his own development are paced well to help us understand all the nuances of the journey. The narrative is tender and warm, with poignant and thought-provoking moments that are placed deftly to challenge conventional notions of progress. As Mont navigated the contrasting landscapes of Communism and capitalism, I found myself captivated by his journey to find identity and purpose, reflecting on my own life and the impact that culture and society have had on me. Overall, Opposing Forces is a compelling memoir that will be a new favorite for all cultural and autobiographical writing fans seeking a new perspective to explore.

Jon Michael Miller

Opposing Forces: A Memoir by Francis Mont is stated by the author to be “an intellectual autobiography” in which actual events are not as important as the “stages of development” that led to his final disillusionment. He traces these stages from Attila’s youth in communist Hungary through his defection to Canada via Finland and Sweden; through him and his wife Marta’s first exuberant taste of personal freedom; through the vicissitudes of career-building in the capitalist west; through the rude awakenings of professional competition, adoption, divorce, remarriage, job issues in computer engineering; and finally through a philosophical reflection of his life experience and its uncertain conclusion. He writes of his intellectual conflict between the opposing forces in his surreptitious reading of Orwell and Huxley versus the ironic nihilism of Kazohinia: Gulliver’s Travels among the Hins by Szathmári Sándor, a book by a Hungarian author that keeps popping up in the narrative.

Though Francis Mont insists that in his fictional memoir events are subservient to ideas, for me the most engaging parts of this captivating book are Atilla’s time as a youth in Budapest, his and Marta’s defection to the West, and their early years in freedom, relishing their mind-opening experiences in Sweden, Finland, Canada, and the States. Mr. Mont made me feel Atilla’s excitement and unfettered joy of the streets, parks, and neighborhoods of Toronto, the magnificence of Niagara Falls, his first sight of New York City from a helicopter, and his delight at the ease of entry into financial self-support. These descriptions made me feel a quiet satisfaction of having grown up taking such sensations for granted. Of course, the difficulties of adjusting to a new system soon come into play, and it is fascinating to watch Atilla's and Marta’s struggles as their new idealism is inevitably eroded by the challenges of capitalistic competition and its many injustices. I won’t tell you the results of Attila’s processing the opposing forces of Ayn Rand and Noam Chomsky, but this memoir ultimately ends not with communism vs. capitalism, East vs. West, but with the much more cosmic issues of despair vs. hope. For anyone wrestling with ideas of how to view humanity and its future, Opposing Forces: A Memoir by Francis Mont must be required reading.

Foluso Falaye

In Opposing Forces, Francis Mont writes about growing up in a communist world and escaping to a capitalist economy that turned out to be deeply flawed and far from his expectations. The protagonist, Attila, left Hungary and experienced the luxury of living in a freer economy with his wife, who didn't seem very supportive of his decision. Not long after getting his first job, he discovered an error in the fantasy of following one's dreams in a capitalist system. He found himself slaving away to make the next paycheck and feeling drained at work, resulting in health scares. From one company and occupation to another, his search for a worthwhile profession left him very unsatisfied and disappointed. Fortunately, he found a thoughtful resolution and a way to come to terms with his new reality.

Francis Mont's words resonated with me deeply. I found myself highlighting some of his profound observations about the major issues of capitalism, such as the idea that money was created to keep people from cheating each other but ends up being a primary way of cheating and working less and getting more than other honest, hardworking people. We view the author's memorable encounters with various interesting characters, including Caprice, who was said to be the only manager out of all the managers he worked for who told him "the truth." The book's themes include economics, politics, marital issues, adoption, history, engineering, philosophy, migration, teaching, and more. These themes are mixed skillfully to create a compelling story. Opposing Forces is a must-read for readers interested in serious conversations about economic systems, especially capitalism. This candid, eye-opening memoir will remind you of your own struggles and aspirations in a challenging, unfair capitalist system.

Divine Zape

Opposing Forces: A Memoir by Francis Mont is a captivating narrative that chronicles the remarkable journey of Attila, a Hungarian immigrant, from the tumultuous landscape of post-revolutionary Budapest to the promising shores of Canada. Through meticulously crafted episodes, Mont offers a tapestry of personal experiences, societal upheavals, and existential reflections, giving readers a profound insight into Attila’s quest for freedom. The memoir begins with Attila's early years, marked by innocence shattered by political repression and societal turmoil following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Against post-revolutionary Budapest, Attila explores freedom and responsibilities, experiencing the thrill of first love and societal constraints while pursuing his intellectual curiosity.

Francis Mont is a great storyteller who vividly portrays Attila's journey, from his daring escape from Hungary with Marta to their quest for asylum in Sweden and eventual resettlement in Canada. Each chapter features gripping details, capturing the emotional turmoil, the challenges these characters face, and the grit displayed by Attila and Marta as they navigate unfamiliar lands in search of a better life. The nuanced exploration of themes such as freedom, identity, and intellectual pursuit is characteristic of this narrative. Attila's intellectual curiosity and quest for truth guide his journey, and readers will love to follow how he evolves through every stage of his pursuit. The historical settings are beautifully rendered, and the theme of immigration is explored with intelligence. Opposing Forces is a story that many readers can relate to, especially those who have experienced repression and have craved greener pastures.

Romuald Dzemo

Opposing Forces: A Memoir by Francis Mont is a captivating narrative that follows the life of Attila, a Hungarian man whose journey spans from youthful naivety to seasoned wisdom against the backdrop of Hungary's historical turmoil. He is fired by the quest for freedom from the stringent rules of communism. Attila's childhood unfolds against the backdrop of post-revolutionary Budapest, marked by societal upheaval and political repression. Amidst the chaos, Attila finds solace in nature and nurtures his passions for music, literature, and sports. As adolescence dawns, he struggles with newfound freedoms and responsibilities, including his first love, Rose, and his pursuit of knowledge in academia.

Opposing Forces features gorgeous writing, and the author demonstrates an extraordinary skill for character development. Attila is presented as an intelligent young man when readers meet him. His curiosity and longing for freedom shine through the opening chapters and follow him as he matures. The relationship between Attila and Marta is an element that adds interest. The narrative examines Attila's career trajectory, from computer programming to independent contracting, highlighting the challenges and rewards of immersing in the ever-changing landscape of technology and employment. Francis Mont’s Opposing Forces is a tale of adventure, the pursuit of freedom, and meaning but is, above all, a story that examines the tensions within Attila. I enjoyed the descriptive prose and the author's ability to present a dazzling portrait of the different worlds he has lived in. There is a lot to enjoy in this book, from the beautiful writing to the richly drawn characters, from the adventures of the characters to the intriguing settings.

Pikasho Deka

Francis Mont tells his life story in this thought-provoking memoir, Opposing Forces. Growing up in Hungary during the tumultuous times of the 1950s, Francis used to be known as Attila, and he and his siblings witnessed first-hand the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, where the Soviet forces prevailed. After graduating college with a physics degree, Attila and his first wife Marta escaped the clutches of the brutal Communist regime, hoping to start their lives anew in the West. With a few hiccups in Finland and Sweden, Attila and Marta finally arrive in Canada, where Attila soon enters the corporate world to enjoy the fruits of capitalism. But the marriage doesn't last the rigors of his professional life, and he discovers the flaws of a hyper-capitalistic society. He was a single father and in between jobs when Irene came into his life.

Heartfelt and poignant, Opposing Forces follows a Hungarian immigrant's experiences in the West as he discovers the pros and cons of the two major economic systems in the world. Through this captivating memoir, Francis Mont bares his soul, tells his story, and gives an unflinching account of his life, with keen insights drawn from his experiences living in Soviet-controlled Hungary and later Canada. Attila's story is moving and perfectly demonstrates how any economic system, ideology, or even religion can be used as a tool to dupe the masses. The author's struggles in the corporate world are very relatable, and this makes the narrative so much more personable to the reader. Mont overcame the numerous challenges life threw at him, and it's a testament to his resilience, courage, and sheer will to find meaning and fulfillment in life. Highly recommended.